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Chinese-accented Chicken Stock


John Rosevear
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I've used Lee Kum Kee's powdered chicken stock in Chinese dishes for ages, partly out of laziness, partly because my "normal" (French) chicken stock doesn't taste right, and partly because my kids like the resulting dishes (they taste more like restaurant food), but it's time for me to outgrow that. Do you make stock in quantity for Chinese cooking, and if so, how?

John Rosevear

"Brown food tastes better." - Chris Schlesinger

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My "stock" for Chinese dishes is very light; more of a broth to use for a bit of liquid as needed. The only seasonings are a few ginger slices and green onions. I also add whole garlic cloves but that is because is think I have a little garlic issue.... I am no stranger to the powdered chicken stuff (Knorr in the cupboard now), but I think it is the MSG in those that the kids like. Toss that stuff in anything and it is appealing to many.

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A lot of Cantonese home cooks will poach a chicken with ginger, scallions and garlic as part of a family meal. Then of course we use the poaching liquor as stock for other dishes.

If i'm making stock from scratch for a specific dish then i would just use chicken wings instead of a whole chicken. Lately i have been saving the end pieces of air-dried ham and ham bones to add to the stock too in imitation of Shanton broth. I even bought a bag of Iberico ham bones for this very purpose.

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I grew up in Chinese kitchens, my parents are Chinese and owned a restaurant, and we very rarely added flavourings other than the classic onions and sometimes carrots to the poaching liquid. In my experience, the stock is used as a base for a sauce or a soup and we would add seasonings only when preparing the final dish. The stock was therefore basic and flexible.

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I grew up in Chinese kitchens, my parents are Chinese and owned a restaurant, and we very rarely added flavourings other than the classic onions and sometimes carrots to the poaching liquid. In my experience, the stock is used as a base for a sauce or a soup and we would add seasonings only when preparing the final dish. The stock was therefore basic and flexible.

I also make a fairly naked stock. Just bones, meat and onions. Allows for much more flexibility when one is actually going to use the stock.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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A lot of Cantonese home cooks will poach a chicken with ginger, scallions and garlic as part of a family meal. Then of course we use the poaching liquor as stock for other dishes.

If i'm making stock from scratch for a specific dish then i would just use chicken wings instead of a whole chicken. Lately i have been saving the end pieces of air-dried ham and ham bones to add to the stock too in imitation of Shanton broth. I even bought a bag of Iberico ham bones for this very purpose.

"Shanton" broth is actually spoken and written as "Shang (superior) tong (broth)" What you are doing is absolutely correct. Everyone has a freezer these days and a good rich broth is so easy to make, I don't understand the reliance on synthetic flavours and seasonings.

Some supermarkets debone their own chicken and usually the carcasses, giblets and necks are thrown away or given away. Add a ham hock or two, boil the hell out of it all, strain and freeze. Voila!! Shang tong.

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I did just that this evening, Uncle Ben: bought about 5 kg.of chicken necks and backs from the supermarket. I'll be boiling up a large stock pot tomorrow, all day.

It'll be just chicken and ginger, no vegetables, and definitely no ham hock unless you're talking fresh. I strain the stock into large clean yogurt containers before it gels. These are great to have in the freezer as I make traditional Chinese soup for my 101 year old mom in personal care everyday. She'd know the difference between homemade and store-bought!

Now that it's soup weather, I am able to get pork neck bones as well. I already have several containers for soups that are better made with pork flavours.

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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It'll be just chicken and ginger, no vegetables, and definitely no ham hock unless you're talking fresh.

Sorry Dejah, I meant the non-smoked Parma, or Prosciutto style ham. There is also a Chinese version also, but I can't think of it now.

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Ben -- you BOIL the broth -- as in 'boil the hell out of it'? Is Shanton broth supposed to be milky? Or do you mean to simmer until all the flavor is in the broth instead of in the bones and meat?

I always bring just to a boil, scoop off the residual that rises to the top, and then simmer for hours. Ginger and scallions for flavor, except when I have a piece of ham hock. The result is a nice clear broth.

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Sorry Dejah, I meant the non-smoked Parma, or Prosciutto style ham. There is also a Chinese version also, but I can't think of it now.

There are a number of different versions of Chinese air dried ham. The one i've encountered is Gam Waa For toei (金華火腿), i think "Gam Waa" in pinyin is "Jinhua" where this ham is from. There is also the famous ham from Yunnan but i've never tried that one. There are probably more in China, after all the Chinese were the first to domesticate the pig. It might make an interesting and heated debate between Chinese and Europeans as to who made the first air-dried ham. Heck even the Welsh have a claim, it's like everyone knows that the original recipe for Parma ham was taken by the Romans from Carmarthen ham in Wales :wink:

Anyway, yes a chunk of ham gives a fantastic flavour boost to Chinese chicken stock.

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Jo-Mel,

I bring the filled stock pot to a boil, then simmer all day and skim when I remember. As with the method I used in my restaurant, once the strained stock is cooled and formed into jelly, any "crud" left behind has settled to the bottom. The result is a concentrated clear chicken stock

In the restaurant, this was used in all stir-fries needing a sauce. Customers always asked,"How do you make this great sauce for ...?" That's the secret. Makes a great broth for wonton soup too!

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Anyway, yes a chunk of ham gives a fantastic flavour boost to Chinese chicken stock.

I use the skin from homemade lop yuk, which adds both flavor and body bc of the gelatin.

I bring the filled stock pot to a boil, then simmer all day and skim when I remember. As with the method I used in my restaurant, once the strained stock is cooled and formed into jelly, any "crud" left behind has settled to the bottom. The result is a concentrated clear chicken stock.

Dejah, did you use just carcasses, bodies, or what? Any additional chicken feet for the gelatin?

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Chris,

We dissected whole chickens ourselves, so we used the complete carcass. Didn't have chicken feet, but we didn't need them for the gelatin. Didn't gel as well if we didn't have the thigh bones. That happens whenever we do BBQ chicken thighs.

Lap yuk skin! You mean you don't eat that? :shock: I love a good chew. That would add nice flavour because it has the "Chinese accent"- quite different from a stock with smoked ham.

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Ben -- you BOIL the broth -- as in 'boil the hell out of it'? Is Shanton broth supposed to be milky? Or do you mean to simmer until all the flavor is in the broth instead of in the bones and meat?

I always bring just to a boil, scoop off the residual that rises to the top, and then simmer for hours. Ginger and scallions for flavor, except when I have a piece of ham hock. The result is a nice clear broth.

"Boil" is a generic term. I should have used "simmer", after the initial boil to bring up the temp. A rolling boil will usually make for a murky stock...we wouldn't want that now, would we??

The ham bone (non-smoked) will add lots of gelatine to the stock, as will chicken skin and bones.

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After Thanksgiving, I used the bones to make a stock, and it came out just great, with just the addition of ginger and scallions. Clear and tasty. I also had a whole breast bone and some extra thigh bones, from which I made another bit of stock the next day. BUT -- as it came to a boil, I was distracted for just a few minutes and by the time I went back to the pot --- it was creamy!! Ah-- well, I'll use that stock for a creamy dish I guess. Tastes fine --- just not clear because of those few minutes of boiling! Evidently the boiling breaks up the fat particles and causes the cloudiness --- or so I read somwhere.

But a good stock from fresh chicken is just the best. I had the most wonderful and memorable pork and Sichuan vegetable soup in Hong Kong one time (my fav Chinese soup). This one was out of this world --- because of the stock. Forgot the pork and vegetable and just enjoyed the soup liquid itself!

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Anyway, yes a chunk of ham gives a fantastic flavour boost to Chinese chicken stock.

So, Ben and Prawncrackers, let's say I have a yen for wanton soup and don't happen to have any Chinese chicken broth on hand or the time to make a fresh batch of stock. I pretty much always have a variety of sizes of plain home-made chicken stock and the same of ham stock (made from smoked ham shanks) in the freezer. Could I combine them in a pinch to use for a wonton soup? My ham stock is typically pretty intense and when I make red beans & rice I usually add about 30 to 40 percent more water to the pot. What proportion of chicken stock to ham would you suggest? I'm thinking it shouldn't really taste hammy in the end, right?

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[ My ham stock is typically pretty intense and when I make red beans & rice I usually add about 30 to 40 percent more water to the pot. What proportion of chicken stock to ham would you suggest? I'm thinking it shouldn't really taste hammy in the end, right?

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Anyway, yes a chunk of ham gives a fantastic flavour boost to Chinese chicken stock.

So, Ben and Prawncrackers, let's say I have a yen for wanton soup and don't happen to have any Chinese chicken broth on hand or the time to make a fresh batch of stock. I pretty much always have a variety of sizes of plain home-made chicken stock and the same of ham stock (made from smoked ham shanks) in the freezer. Could I combine them in a pinch to use for a wonton soup? My ham stock is typically pretty intense and when I make red beans & rice I usually add about 30 to 40 percent more water to the pot. What proportion of chicken stock to ham would you suggest? I'm thinking it shouldn't really taste hammy in the end, right?

I would add maybe 2 tbsp of ham stock for every cup of chicken stock and then simmer it for 20 minutes with some ginger, garlic & green onions before removing them and adding in the wontons.

PS: I am a guy.

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